CHICAGO – Considering the offensive talent on the ice for both the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, Wednesday night's game between the two had the makings of a shootout.
Thanks to some razor-sharp goaltending by Chicago's Marty Turco and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, it was -- literally. After ending regulation and the overtime period deadlocked 1-1, the Hawks took the 2-1 win and two points by winning 3-2 in a shootout in front of 20,859 at United Center.
Turco forced a shot by Mikael Samuelsson wide in the third round of the shootout to end it, after Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane each beat Luongo -- who made a great stop in OT on a breakaway by Hossa -- and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler beat Turco.
It was a rematch of last season's Western Conference Semifinal series that was won by Chicago on its road to the Stanley Cup, and was the second loss in as many nights by the Canucks (2-3-2). The Hawks won their fourth in a row.
Instead of offensive fireworks, the game was hard-hitting and defensive-minded -- and goals were anything but easy. Viktor Stalberg scored first for the Hawks with 37.7 seconds left in the first period. He got his second goal of the season after settling the puck off a feed from Jake Dowell and blasting it under Luongo's trapper.
Daniel Sedin tied it 1-1 early in the third by tapping in a puck that was jarred loose in the crease after a scrum at the right post. The puck appeared to be trapped between Turco's skate and the post, but was poked out and slid between Brent Seabrook's legs into the blue paint. Sedin quickly poked it home for his seventh goal of the season.
That was it for scoring, as the game was a reminder that stats aren't always a portent of what's to come. The offensive stats for both teams were pretty impressive.
Each team came into the game with two players in the League's top six in scoring – the Canucks' Henrik and Daniel Sedin and the Hawks' duo of Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Both teams sport Top-10 power plays – the Hawks third in the League and the Canucks sixth.
Each team also had some sort of issue to correct defensively.
For Vancouver, Luongo was just one day removed from being removed after only two periods and six goals allowed in 18 shots at Minnesota. For the Hawks, the issue was a disturbing trend of allowing a lot more shots than they did last season – 33.7 on average prior to Wednesday night's game.
Combine those factors and you'd think Hawks' P.A. announcer Gene Honda would need some hot tea to soothe his vocal chords. Instead, he may have needed some coffee to stay sharp.
Despite the teams combining for 69 shots, Luongo and Turco were deadlocked in a battle of goaltending to see who'd ultimately flinch. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault was asked about his decision to start Luongo after the rough outing against the Wild.
Vigneault didn't need a lot of words to explain his rationale.
"One of the best goaltenders in the League, experienced guy," he said. "We need him to play well for us tonight."
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